The novel Coronavirus pandemic presents a major new challenge for governments and civil societies around the world. The strain on economies, healthcare systems and even social order resulting from this pandemic has been devastating. To respond to this, Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) has been at the forefront of ensuring civil society organizations in Tanzania are playing their much needed role of, not only raising awareness, but also providing the necessary material support needed to keep marginalized and vulnerable populations safe from the pandemic.
FCS has carried out a number of initiatives towards COVID-19 response. First, FCS prepared a programmatic response towards COVID-19 by reallocating 20% of its grantees’ project budgets for the year 2020, with a total worth of TZS 1.5 billion (approximately USD 650,000) towards COVID–19 interventions. The funds are benefitting various vulnerable and marginalize groups including people with disabilities, women, and children, the elderly, pastoralists, hunter-gatherer communities as well as small entrepreneurs.
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This support is dedicated at ensuring effective and inclusive communication around the pandemic, improving access to healthcare, as well as managing escalating risks of gender based violence and child abuse resulting from the effects of the pandemic. In a snapshot survey that we carried out with our grantees in May 2020, more than half (55%) of our respondents who were from 17 regions in the country reported observing increased cases of GBV. This, despite being a rapid, limited sample opinion survey produced results that are consistent with a lot of what has been reported in larger studies carried out in many other countries, providing ample justification for FCS’ response.
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On April 8, 2020, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), under the leadership of FCS joined forces to support government initiatives in the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak in Tanzania by raising over TZS 79 million (approximately USD 34,000. The funds were handed over to the National Relief Fund through the Prime Minister’s Office.
FCS also ran a Giving Tuesday campaign from 21 April to 5 May, 2020 to support the protection of healthcare workers in Tanzania through the acquisition of personal protective equipment (PPE). In this campaign, FCS invited donations from the general public. By the end of the campaign, FCS and partners had collected TZS 11 million (approximately USD 4,700) worth of PPEs, which were handed over to the Medical Association of Tanzania.
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Throughout these challenging times, if there is one thing that has stood out, it is the role of partnerships in protecting the wellness of both the people, and the economies that they depend on to thrive. In the spirit of its new motto “facilitating partnerships for development”, FCS calls upon civil society actors, private sector actors and individuals to join hands with our governments in efforts to curb the effects of the ongoing pandemic.